What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Time for a Brighter Theme?

Filed under: About This Site — dave @ 3:00 pm 2016/12/07

I changed the website theme a few years ago, but now that President Obama’s days are numbered, it might be time to change things up a bit with a new website visual theme. Donald Trump won the election. That fact doesn’t thrill me, other than that it means Hillary Clinton lost, but I’m cautioiusly optimistic about the prospects for the country with him in office.

True, he’s no prize, but I’m still hopeful that his Presidency will work out well for the country. And it’s that optimism that makes me think it’s time to change the theme. It will take some time to find one I like and to tweak it to work well with my content, so watch this spot for news of the change.

Roadkill – Stubby Bob Does Wheelstands!

Filed under: Cars! — dave @ 11:02 am 2016/07/16

This is all kinds of awesome. I don’t watch the Roadkill guys often, but this one is definitely worth the time. They take a ratty old Ford truck and do terrible things with it. Terribly cool.

stubby_bob_wheelie

I’d love to have the time, space, & resources to do the kind of stuff they do, but it’s probably a good thing (really good thing) that I don’t, because it would probably end with me being dead. It would be fun though. 😉

The Roadkill guys got a V-drive from a place called Slim’s Fab Farm; very interesting place. From the looks of the website they primarily deal with motorcycle mods, but Slim also does some wild stuff with old vans that do wheelstands. According to Slim, his work “is rough; my stuff’s not clean, it just gets done.” From what’s shown in the video, that’s very true.

This is the episode where Stubby Bob is introduced; not nearly as fun as the later one, but still worth the time.

Google Chrome’s Automatic Translation

Filed under: Computers,German Translation — Tags: , , , — dave @ 2:44 pm 2016/04/09

Living in Germany is made a lot easier by some of the tools Google has produced, like the Google Translate app, which uses your cell phone’s camera to do on-the-fly OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to read things like foreign language signs, labels, and any other text, then translate that text to English (or one of many other languages.) It’s an amazing product; not perfect, but a huge, huge help!

Another helpful item from Google is the automatic translation feature built into the Chrome web browser. The translation can take a page that’s written in German (for example) and convert it to English with a right-click command. You can even set up Chrome to automatically translate any page you view in a given language. And that’s how I have Chrome set up; whenever it recognizes German text on a web page, it converts it. Most of the time it works well enough that I barely notice it’s working. The translation is never perfect, but that’s usually just a result of the grammatical differences between German and English. It at least gives me a good idea of what the page is trying to communicate, which would be totally lost on me if I was looking at nothing but Deutsch!

That automatic translation got me in a bit of trouble last week though… One of the family computers died, so we needed a replacement. I didn’t have my ducks in a row when we were visiting the US over spring break, so I had to find one over here. I shopped around on Amazon and eBay, and finally settled on a Lenovo ThinkPad L520 I found on eBay (the sizeable balance in my PayPal account was pretty much the deciding factor!) Here’s a screenshot of the purchase details, which is how I saw the ad, translated:

The price was right, it was well-equipped, and it even had a QWERTY keyboard, which is an important consideration when living in a country where most computers come equipped with a German language keyboard, which has a few different letters than the US keyboard, and has the Z where the Y should be. So I ordered it.

But when the computer arrived, it did have the German keyboard AND the OS was all in German. Crud. The OS I could deal with (although why changing languages in Windows is ten times as difficult as in Mac OS I will never understand) but the keyboard… I got back onto eBay and shot the seller a message, telling him I wasn’t terribly happy with what I saw as a keyboard bait & switch. Surprisingly, I got a note back within a couple hours telling me that nowhere in the auction was anything said about a QWERTY keyboard. I chortled; wait until I show him the confirmation email I received… But when I went back to the email, it did say QWERTZ, not QWERTY! What?!?!

So I went back to eBay to take a look at the auction; for some reason the translation took a little longer than usual, and sure enough, the description said QWERTZ, not QWERTY, but after a moment the translation finished, and the description said QWERTY!

Well now that’s a problem. Here’s the purchase details sans translation:

See the difference?

So apparently in Google’s world, QWERTZ translates to QWERTY. But of course that translation doesn’t transfer over to the real world.

Yes, I should’ve been more attentive on this deal, but like I said, the translation just works well enough that I just don’t notice it doing its thing. And when searching through a page of 25 items in the search results, of course the items further down the list are going to be translated before you get there. Still, I should have verified with the seller before ordering.

So for now, Caleb will have to live with a keyboard that doesn’t match the key map, and I’m shopping for a real US keyboard for a Lenovo L520. Doh.

R.O.A.D. – Egg Cartons

Filed under: R.O.A.D. — dave @ 7:16 am 2016/01/15

The Germans (and I’d guess other Europeans as well) are kinda nuts about the metric system. So much so that they even sell eggs in cartons of ten. Who knew…

carton_of_10_eggs

Actually, I think the metric system makes a whole lot of sense, and can’t understand why the US didn’t follow through with the push to convert back in the ’70’s. I’m kinda getting the hang of it, but measuring speed in kilometers per hour is still kinda weird to me. As is temps in Celsius… Seems like kind of a foreign language in a lot of ways.

Another Truck I Like

Filed under: Cars!,Fun! — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 1:03 pm 2015/11/28

Today’s new trucks lack character. Too much plastic, and too many curvy lines. Trucks from the ’60’s however… They exude “cool”. Like this one, a 1966 Chevy 1-Ton Six-Pack long box.

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I’ve always liked the styling of the first-generation Chevy C/K trucks, but the not so much the six-pack or four-door variants; they always seemed a bit ungainly looking, with the rear doors sharing the lines of the front door, which left an overly large B-pillar. But that looks much more at home on this truck, with its longer bed and larger wheels.

It’s for sale right now, in Woodbury, CT, for the low, low price of $55,000. I’ll bet the thing didn’t even cost $5,000 when new, but age plus rarity plus the work that’s gone into restoring it justify the price. Whether anyone will actually pay that much for it remains to be seen. But still, that is one killer looking truck! The only thing I’d want to change though is the engine; a 6.9L Cummins turbo-diesel would make it absolutely perfect!

1966 Chevy Factory Full Four Door Pickup Custom One of a kind – $55000 (Woodbury CT)

FOR SALE!!!
1966 Chevrolet Full Four Door Factory Four Door C60 Truck..
This body is a factory GM production truck built by CROWN Bodies For GM there are only about 500 in existence and not one of them is like this rare beauty..
Originally a Produced for the Municipal Industries this truck was more than likely a Fire Truck or Service Vehicle for a Water dept. Etc..
The Bed you see on it is the only Fabricated piece of the truck and it fits and shows very well to modern functionality. Bed is 10 Feet with track inside and Bedliner for full function..
Motor is a Chevrolet Big Big Block set to hold power at 3000 RPM with Gobs of Torque for Pulling just about anything you want..
Transmission is an Allison Automatic making it perfect for cruising or working
Rear end is 19.5 Eaton with a detroit locker. Super Single Rear Tires eliminating the Dual wheels and giving it an awesome rod look..
Seats are Brand new Chevy Silverado Pickup Buckets
the rest speaks for itself..
Tonsa Fun as stated on the back is an understatement..
If you like original items this is the one you want..
Recently appraised at 85000.00 this is a bargain for any truck enthusiast.
This build was completed 10 years ago and has been proven reliable with a mere 4000 miles on it..
Appraisal will be provided for serious interests..
This truck has not been listed anywhere else as of yet so strike whIle it’s still a ghost..

Random Observations About Deutschland (R.O.A.D)

Filed under: R.O.A.D. — dave @ 5:38 pm 2015/10/31

New category alert… Ever since we moved to Germany (yeah, I know I haven’t posted about that, yet. I have a post or three pending about how that came about, but if I waited until that was done, I’d never get to the fun stuff!) there have been a number of things I’ve noticed that make living here, um, different than living in the US.

So I thought I’d start a fun thread of things that are different here. And I mean no more or less than that; they’re different, not wrong, not weird (well, there are some things that are just downright weird, but that might just be me. Yeah, mostly me), just different. And there are plenty of things to write about. Puh-lenty.

I’ll start off with shopping carts. Why shopping carts? Because one of the main jobs in this new gig is feeding the 21 high school boys in my charge, and that means food is needed. Lots of it. So I spend way more time pushing shopping carts in grocery stores than I ever dreamed possible.

Shopping carts in the US are pretty standard fare, and I never really gave them much thought; metal or plastic baskets, two swivel wheels on the front, two fixed wheels in the back, a spot for a kidling to sit close to whomever is pushing, etc… One of our neighbors, a retired gentleman, worked part time at a grocery store for a while, and would talk about having to collect shopping carts from the parking lot; that made me think a little more about carts in recent years, and made me a bit more mindful of where I left my carts when I was done with them. It also annoyed me when I saw others leave them standing out in the middle of the parking lots or just shoved together in the corrals with no concern for who is going to have to sort them out. Pity the poor grocery store employee who draws the short straw and has to go out to gather up carts in the cold of winter on an ice & snow covered lot. And if the parking lot is wet, icy, or cold, the chances that the shoppers will leave their carts in weird places increases.

The Europeans have come up with a totally ingenious way to avoid all the hassles of cart wrangling; each cart has a little chain attached to the handle with an end that fits into a lock slot on the handle of another cart. To unlock a cart, you simply stick a coin (50 cent or 1 or 2 Euro) into a slot in the handle. When you return the cart and snap the chain from the next cart into the lock on yours you get your coin back.

The deposit coin is all the incentive that’s needed to get the customer to return the cart. In the US, without that incentive, people just assume that someone will take care of it, so they don’t think twice about leaving it wherever or leaving a mess in the cart corral.

It sounds like some Canadian stores have also started using this system; the US market would be wise to follow suit. A couple of the stores we’ve visited had lock boxes on the carts that looked to be add-ons; a quick Google search led me to Maciver Enterprises, who markets a retrofit “Kartloc” system. I’m sure introducing a new system like that wouldn’t be without a few hiccups on startup, but I think people would adopt it readily, and it would be totally worth it.


One gripe I have about the shopping carts is that they have four swivel wheels, which makes steering them a pain in the neck. And the knees, and the back. In the US, the rear wheels are fixed and the front wheels swivel, which makes it far easier to keep a cart going in one direction. But with swivel wheels on all four… negotiating a turn in the store – especially with a full load in the cart – takes a bit of doing. Get that same cart on an uneven surface, like in the parking lot, and it’s next to impossible to get it to go in a straight line. This guy explains the issue pretty well:

I guess having four swivel wheels makes the carts easier to push around the stores, which are generally smaller than what I’m used to, have narrower aisles, and are more crowded… At least when the cart only has a small number of items in it. But when the cart is heaped with the quantity of stuff we buy on a regular basis, the four swivel wheel thing fails miserably. The one store I’ve visited that had fixed rear wheels was Carrefour in France; that store is a bit larger than most around here, but the aisles are just as crowded and narrow as most others, so I’m not sure what motivated them to deviate from the others.


And yet another thing that makes grocery trips difficult is the way you deal with the groceries after they pass by the checker. In the US, there is typically an area behind the checker that’s as large or larger than the belt in front of the checker where the groceries can be put so that a bagger can pack them up for you. Here though, store employees don’t bag for you (they don’t provide bags either); all the groceries get put in a small spot behind the checker, and you need to put them into something. Usually we put the groceries back into the cart, then push the cart to the parking lot where we have a number of plastic bins to hold the groceries until we get them home. With the volume of groceries we buy, and some of the large quantities, you really need to be on the ball so that your ten cartons of milk don’t end up on top of the bread or vegetables you already put into the cart. That is easily the most stressful time of shopping, except when the cashier rattles off a question in German and you have no clue what she just said or how to respond. Did she ask, “Would you like the promotional points with your purchase?” or “Are you as stupid as you look?” I guess it all works to keep life interesting, and to keep me humble.

BMWotD – 1995 e34 5 series V12 6spd Conversion

Filed under: BMW Of The Day — Tags: , , , , , — dave @ 3:25 pm 2015/10/27

00v0v_4teIUbBowsh_600x450

Here’s a unique car that is up for sale in the Burlington, KY, area. The owner/seller could just as well call it a 550i; it’s a 5-series with a 5-liter V12 engine under the hood.

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(more…)

An Old Fashioned Christian

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 4:27 am 2015/09/19

This article could serve as a modernized version of the Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed to reaffirm the basics of what it means to be a Christian.

Of course there are segments of that article that would rankle some Christians in the US and Europe today, what with the statements about a literal six-day, 144-hour Creation event, and the strict interpretation of marriage.

Many think that modern advances in science should give rise to adjustments in what we believe about these things because after all, the verbiage of the Bible is a product of people in a time in history who didn’t know as much as we know. But if we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then it’s more than just the wisdom of men put into words; much, much more. God put things like the six days of Creation in there in very specific terms so that we could know that that is how he did it.

Likewise, he also intended for marriage to be between one man and one woman. Yes, the Bible tells of men who took multiple wives, but the standard is and always was one man and one woman. The only time same-sex relationships are mentioned, they are accompanied by condemnations of the practice.

Of course my understanding of the things of God is very flawed, but the statement made by the stringing together of these words is probably as good as it gets this side of heaven.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

I Corinthians 13:12

BMWotD — Damn Swedes

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,Racing — dave @ 5:08 pm 2015/08/21

5958608897

No, that doesn’t look much like a BMW. In fact, it’s a Volvo. Or at least it started out that way when it was new in the 1960’s, but now…

5901225492

That’s a BMW 4.0L M6x V8, with a little tweaking and forced induction (via a pair of turbochargers) that makes it good for about 750HP. And then it uses the drivetrain from a Nissan GT-R to make it AWD. Judging from the rest of the photos, I’m thinking the engine & drivetrain are just the beginning of the list of modifications done to this car. Not much Volvo left.

It’s for sale on BAT right now for ~$41,000. Lots of money for a car that might not be street-legal, but it sure is nice to look at.

Where Politically Correct Indoctrination Goes Wrong

Filed under: Politics,Work — dave @ 4:02 pm 2015/06/09

This woman, whoever she is, needs to be heard, because what she has to say about the military’s sexual harassment training is spot on.

Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. I’m publishing her letter here not just because it captures in visceral form a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly from airmen who are frustrated by increasingly tone-deaf and overwrought approaches to this issue, but also because I believe her input raises (or renews) two important questions. First, what is the current Sexual Assault Prevention program doing for the Air Force? Second, what is it doing to the Air Force? Kayce’s input explores these questions in a powerful way. Enjoy and respond. -Q.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Dear SARC,

I got up this morning as an Airman in the United States Air Force. I got up and I put on my uniform, I pulled back my hair, I looked in the mirror and an Airman looked back. A strong, confident military professional stared out of my bathroom mirror, and I met her eyes with pride. Then I came to your briefing. I came to your briefing and I listened to you talk to me, at times it seemed directly to me, about sexual assault. You talked about a lot of things, about rivers and bridges, you talked about saving people and victimization. In fact you talked for almost a full ninety minutes, and you disgusted me.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way.

You are the reason I room alone when I deploy. You are the reason that wives are terrified that their husbands are cheating on them when they leave, and I leave with them. When I walk into a room and people are laughing and having a good time, you are the reason they take one look at me and either stop talking or leave. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of me, and it’s because of you. They are afraid that with all of this “power” I have, I can destroy them. They will never respect me or the power and the authority I have as a person, or the power I have as an Airman, because I am nothing more than a victim. That I as a victim, somehow I control their fate. With one sentence, I can destroy the rest of their lives.

“He sexually assaulted me.”

I say enough. He didn’t assault me, you did; and I say enough is enough. If you want to help me, you need to stop calling me a victim. If you want to save me, you need to help me to be equal in the eyes of the people I work with. If you want to change a culture, you need to lessen the gap between men and women, not widen it. Women don’t need their own set of rules: physical training scores, buildings, rooms, raters, sponsors, deployment buddies. When I can only deploy with another woman ‘buddy’ you are telling me and the people around me that I can’t take care of myself. When you forbid me from going into my male friends room to play X-Box on a deployment with the other people on my shift, you isolate me. When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.

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